California Recall Ballot: Vote No; But Don’t Leave Second Question “Blank”

Lauren Michele
3 min readAug 21, 2021


The California Recall process is insane for so many reasons, but my #1 problem with it is that the Lieutenant Governor of California is not automatically the replacement *if* the Governor is removed from office. Instead a plurality vote is used on the second question of the ballot which allows any random person with money or media to become Governor of our enormous state with just a tiny fraction of the vote. The two leading candidates are a You Tube realtor and a talk radio host (more on them below).

The California Democratic Party and Newsom’s office did not want to endorse any replacement candidate for this election (for fear that people would be confused and vote yes on the first question) and are taking a HUGE risk by telling 10 million registered California Democrats to “leave the second question blank”. Keep in mind there are also 12 million registered non-Democratic California voters, and a lot of them are motivated to vote yes on the recall. This is a horrible political strategy , especially with the recall in a virtual tie, and could result in the election of Larry Elder with just 15% of the vote.

QUESTION 1: I will Vote No on the recall, and encourage everyone to do the same. Newsom has his issues for sure, but we shouldn’t be picking a replacement Governor representing 15% of half the states voters.

QUESTION 2: I will not be leaving the second question blank — that is a massive gamble for Democrats to take when the recall question is polling at a virtual tie.

Based on looking at multiple polls, there are basically four candidates who would have any shot at becoming Governor. All four do not support mask or vaccine mandates, but some are worse than others. Larry Elder is the biggest threat with biggest lead so my suggestion is to vote for Kevin Paffrath or Kevin Faulconer to try to edge out Elder with a centrist. While Paffrath is running as a Dem and Faulconer as a Republican they are both basically centrists except that Faulconer actually has experience in public office and could be a moderate Governor. These are my thoughts on the leading replacement candidates:

  1. Larry Elder. Leading all the polls by far, Elder is a far-right talk radio show host and vocal Trump supporter who would roll back environmental protections and social programs. He supports a $0 minimum wage, overturning Roe v. Wade, and criticizes working women with children as “trying to have it all.” He would be the most likely candidate to try to enforce blocking local mask or vaccine mandates.
  2. Kevin Paffrath. A 29 year old You Tube star and centrist running as a Democrat, Paffrath is the leading Democrat in the polls and is pushing a yes vote for Newsom’s recall. He wants to legalize “Las Vegas style” casino gambling, eliminate state income tax on the first $250,000 earned, and is pro-cryptocurrency. He’s against any California lockdowns, is pro-climate, and wants to address homelessness. Wants to build a 14-foot-diameter pipeline from the Mississippi River to California to address water shortages.
  3. Kevin Faulconer. Former San Diego Mayor, Faulconer is a centrist running on a pro-climate, pro-housing, pro-wildfire relief platform. He is a supporter of women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, and is pro-choice. He wants to end state income taxes on individuals making less than $50,000. He wants to double wildfire prevention funding, launch a small restaurant relief fund, increase teacher salaries, and mental health counseling for students. Would address California’s water supply by adding new reservoirs and water recycling plants.
  4. John Cox. Campaigning with a live 1,000 lbs Kodiak bear (from Alaska), this guy is just as bad as Larry Elder but isn’t polling well. He would end “sanctuary state” designation and wants to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall.



Lauren Michele

Policy in Motion: Growing Beautiful Communities — Business Owner, Author, Producer. Consultant/Advisor. M.S. in Climate Change Policy.